Sunny Wicks era officially dawns for Green Bay basketball

WATCH: Sunny Wicks era officially dawns for Green Bay basketball
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 5:48 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s officially the dawn of a new era for Green Bay men’s basketball as Sundance “Sunny” Wicks is introduced as the ninth head coach in program history.

Wicks was hired to replace Will Ryan two weeks ago, but the news has largely been overshadowed in Green Bay by Aaron Rodgers.

On Wednesday, Wicks finally got his day in the sun as the Phoenix officially introduced him as the new head coach.

“I’m going to be one hundred percent honest with you, there was no better job in the country than Green Bay. I can tell you why. Where can we go? Up. That’s where we can go. Yes, it’s unique obstacles, yes, but why not run into the fire. Why not come to this job? Why not come to Green Bay? That’s my call.”

The community will play a big part in the path forward for Green Bay men’s basketball. Over the last month and a half, the athletic department has raised roughly a million dollars through pledges for the next five years that will benefit the program.

Another key for Wicks and his coaches will be to keep local talent in the area.

“There’s so much good talent around here. Right in our backyard. Part of this process too is we’ve got to make Green Bay appealing too. They look at three wins and they go, ‘maybe I’ll just go over here because I can plug and play.’ Maybe the culture is already set. You’ve got to get out in the community. You’ve got to make sure they see you constantly. Then you’ve got to do everything in your god given power to help those guys understand they can build something locally that can mean more for them in the next four years of their life than just a four year let’s get our degree and see what happens,” said Wicks.

There will be a transition period as the team shifts into the new era, especially when it comes to players. Neenah guard Cal Klesmit has reopened his recruitment after signing with the Phoenix this past fall, and Denmark grad Donavan Short entering the transfer portal.

Over the past few years, the transfer portal has altered the college basketball landscape. That’s especially true for teams in transition like Green Bay. The Phoenix already have seven players in the portal, including their top four scorers from a year ago.

While Wicks works to round out the coaching staff, recruiting will also be a point of emphasis in the early days of his program in Green Bay.

“For us we have to narrow that search down through the art of relationships of guys that we know. Coaches that we know. Programs that we know. Winners that win, leaders that lead. All of those details that go into recruiting out of the portal is so much more important that making a phone call. Picking it up and saying, ‘that looks pretty cool. That guy’s got a lot good stats.’ You’re going to find out there’s a lot more kids that want to be in Green Bay than you lead on, but you’ve just got to look them right in the eye and make sure they’re about it,” said Wicks.